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254             A SEARCH IN SECRET EGYPT
The active fangs were tucked into a covering of mucous membrane and behind them there were other fangs, kept as it were, in reserve. On both sides of each fang there was a tiny bag in which the poison was secreted. The gland which fed this sac probably worked on the same principle as our own salivary glands.
Another point about the fang-tooth was its hollowness. One could trace some analogy between it and the needle of a hypodermic syringe. The cobra could drive the very sharp needle-like edges of its fangs straight into the flesh of its victim, while simultaneously squeezing the muscles of the venom sacs adjacent to its fangs, thus causing the poison to run down the tooth and be injected into the wound; much as the hypodermic needle pierces the flesh while simultaneously drawing the drug out of the barrel of the syringe.
The Sheikh now suggested that I should make my second experiment in the control of snakes by willing the creature to go to sleep, at the same time testing the efficacy of the talisman he had written out for me; as this talisman was essential to the success of my experiment.
He let the cobra go, and retreated to one side. The reptile immediately faced me and fixed those lustrous, unwavering black eyes upon my own. I first tested its watchfulness by slowly walking around it until I had paced a whole circle. The cobra moved its head and its beautifully marked body in perfect parallel unison with each step that I took* Not for one instant did that terrible pair of eyes let go of mine.
Perhaps my movement annoyed it, for it began to rear up a little higher, raising its flattened head, and hissing loudly and angrily; once more shooting forth its black, thread-like tongue and spreading out its regal hood. I had a feeling that whenever a cobra expanded its hood into the elliptical curve as perfect as that of an umbrella, it does so to terrify its victim. The dreadful spectacle-marking on the front of the upraised hood accentuates the eflect.
I knew that even without actually lunging forward and biting me to endanger my life, the cobra'had only to spit a little spray of the venom into my eyes—which is the usual intention of some of these snakes—to cause perpetual blindness.
I exerted my will and endeavoured to impose it upon the serpent. "Go to sleep!" I commanded mentally. Next I approached a few inches closer, holding the talisman in my